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Shamrock looks for luck with iconic artists’ music rights

Westwood’s Shamrock Capital Advisors has made dozens of investments over the years, owning stakes in everything from the Harlem Globetrotters to computer equipment maker Netgear. Though they run the gamut, those investments all had at least one thing in common: They were all companies.

Now Shamrock is trying something different. Instead of investing only in businesses, it’s investing in content.

The firm recently raised $250 million from investors, with plans to use that cash to buy the rights to movies, music and TV shows as well as books, video games and plays.

As part of its strategy, Shamrock is teaming up with another L.A. firm, Jampol Artist Management, to invest in the estates of iconic musicians and other artists.

Private equity firms generally invest in businesses, then work to make those businesses bigger or more profitable. That’s what Shamrock and Jampol hope to do, though with portfolios of music and other rights.

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“We have the ability to take an artist’s intellectual property and make it grow over time by making it relevant to a new generation,” said Patrick Russo, the Shamrock partner in charge of the new content strategy.

While Shamrock provides the capital to invest in artists’ estates – or buy them outright – the work of boosting sales will be handled by Jampol Artist Management and its founder, Jeffrey Jampol.

The firm specializes in managing the estates of so-called legacy artists. Clients include the estates of Jim Morrison, the Ramones, Muddy Waters and Kurt Cobain. Jampol said many estates, often controlled by a deceased musician’s heirs, are mismanaged or are simply content to collect whatever small stream of royalties they still produce.

Find the 13-year-old with a Clash T-shirt and ask them to name three songs. They can’t. But they’ve bought into what the Clash is about.

— Jampol Artist Management founder Jeffery Jampol

Jampol, though, believes he can improve the financial performance of many such estates by marketing an artist’s music and likeness to new generations of fans. He might do so by commissioning a biography or documentary about an artist, or, as with the Ramones, creating a museum exhibition.

The Ramones’ estate worked with the Grammy Museum in L.A. and the Queens Museum in New York on “Hey! Ho! Let’s go: Ramones and the birth of punk,” a two-part exhibition. The first opened in Queens in April; the second opens in L.A. in September.

“It’s about marketing it and exposing it to a generation of new kids,” Jampol said. “Find the 13-year-old with a Clash T-shirt and ask them to name three songs. They can’t. But they’ve bought into what the Clash is about.”

Jampol said he and Shamrock will work together to select the estates they’ll invest in. Jampol Artist Management will be paid a management fee for its work and take a small ownership stake in each estate, Jampol said.

Shamrock, of course, historically has had close ties to the entertainment industry. It’s the successor firm to Shamrock Holdings, the family investment vehicle of the late Roy E. Disney, nephew of Walt Disney Co. co-founder Walt Disney.

Changing Hands

Oakland’s Beneficial State Bank, co-founded by billionaire San Francisco money manager and political activist Tom Steyer, this week completed its purchase of East L.A.’s Pan American Bank.

The deal marks the second time Pan American, California’s oldest Latino-focused lender, has changed hands in less than a year.

After nearly failing in the summer of 2014 and being bailed out by a consortium of other lenders, Pan American was acquired in August by Porterville’s Finance and Thrift Co., which took Pan American’s name and headquarters.

Pan American had been losing money for years. It did better, though still didn’t make a profit, after it was acquired last year.

Kat Taylor, Steyer’s wife and Beneficial’s co-chief executive officer, said Pan American, even after its combination with Finance and Thrift, was just too small to be a profitable bank for the long term. Together, they had just $160 million in assets – tiny by bank standards.

Beneficial, meanwhile, had assets of nearly $490 million before the acquisition, and now has nearly $650 million.

Banks that have more deposits and that can make more loans are generally more profitable than smaller banks, as they can spread costs across a bigger business. That’s pushed many small banks to merge with rivals or sell to bigger institutions over the past few years.

Along with boosting Beneficial’s balance sheet, the acquisition gives the Oakland lender a bigger footprint.

Before the deal, it had branches in Oakland, Sacramento, Seattle and Portland, Ore. With Pan American under its belt, the bank now has 12 branches, including several Central Valley locations and two L.A. outposts – East Los Angeles and North Hollywood.

Pan American and Beneficial are both community development financial institutions – banks set up to serve low-income and underserved areas.

james.koren@latimes.com

Follow me: @jrkoren

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